Monthly Archives: February 2011
Continuing to look at the first basemen in the Pirates' minor league organization:
Aaron Baker -- Bats L/ Throws R, 6' 2", 220 lbs
Baker was chosen in the 11th round of the 2009 draft, and began his pro career right away with the State College Spikes. He was promoted to A level West Virginia for 2010, where he hit for close to the same average -- .247 with the Spikes and .253 for the full season in West Virginia. Baker's power performance improved, as he hit 34 doubles, 18 homers, and 79 RBI for the Power. His high strikeout rate in State College (54 strikeouts in 62 games, 24%) continued in 2010 with 115 strikeouts in 115 games (25%), but he also continued to work a reasonable number of walks -- 52 (10%). Baker's best months at the plate were April (.282, 12 RBI) and May (.278, 16 RBI). His average slipped to .179 in June, though hit hit 5 homers and 12 RBI. He bounced back up to a .274 average in July and hit 7 homers and 21 RBI, then slid back to .247 in August, with 2 homers and 16 RBI. He'd had a big righty-lefty split in 2009, but that disappeared in 2010 (.252 against left-handers and .253 against right-handers). In the field, Baker played all his games at first (with a few DH appearances). He made a whopping 19 errors at first, and that's going to need a lot of work. Baker should be the primary first baseman at A+ Bradenton for 2011, with some possible back-up by Matt Curry. The Pirates would like to see him continue to increase the power numbers, and cut back on the strikeouts.
Calvin Anderson -- R/R, 6' 7", 240 lb
Anderson was the Pirates' 12th round pick in the 2008 draft. He moved up to A+ Bradenton for the 2010 season, where he was the starting first baseman (plus a few games as the DH). He started the season with a so-so April, a .239 average, one homer, and 8 RBI. May began in the same vein, then Anderson had a 12-game hitting streak in the second half of the month, during which he went 22-for-46 (.478) with 3 homers and 16 RBI. That included a 5-RBI game on May 22nd, and a 4-for-4, 4-RBI game on May 26th, and Anderson was named the Florida State League Player of the Week for that week. Unfortunately, that hitting spree came to an end, and Anderson did not do that well again for the rest of the season. He finished with a .259 average, 29 doubles, 11 homers, and 73 RBI. Strikeouts had been a problem for Anderson in previous seasons, and that did not change in 2010 -- 141 strikeouts in 125 games (30%). In the field, Anderson struggled even more than Aaron Baker did -- 23 errors at first base. The combination of low hitting and difficulty in the field may make the Pirates re-think the idea of moving Anderson up to AA Altoona for 2011. If he remains at Bradenton, though, he's going to be squeezed by Baker, and without some big improvement this season, Baker may well pass Anderson by.
Pirates 10, Rays 3
The Pirates posted 13 hits on their way to 10 runs in their McKechnie Field opener on Sunday afternoon. CF Andrew McCutchen had three hits, including a solo homer for the Pirates' first run of the game, and a double. RF Garrett Jones also had three hits -- 2 doubles and a single. McCutchen began a rally in the 4th with a single, and doubles by Jones and C Ryan Doumit drove in 2 runs, all off former Pirate pitcher Chris Bootcheck. Another former Pirate, Jonah Bayliss, came on to pitch the 5th inning for the Rays. Bayliss got the first two outs, then gave up a triple to 2B Neil Walker, and doubles by McCutchen and 3B Pedro Alvarez, and the Pirates had 2 more runs. Chase d'Arnaud came into the game for Walker in the 6th, and he led off the bottom of the 7th with a walk. D'Arnaud moved to second base on a ground out, then scrambled around from second base, surprising the Rays, to score on an RBI ground out by 1B Steve Pearce. The Pirates added another 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th. That inning began with a solo homer by C Jason Jaramillo. SS Josh Rodriguez singled, then with two outs and Rodriguez on third, d'Arnaud lined an RBI single up the middle. CF Corey Wimberly walked, and 3B Andy Marte drove in both d'Arnaud and Wimberly with a double into right field.
Kevin Correia made the start for the Pirates. He gave up a run in the top of the 1st, with a lead-off walk and two ground outs. Correia got into trouble in the 2nd inning, giving up two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out. That was all for Correia. Minor leaguer Ryan Beckman, who pitched for State College in 2010, came on in relief of Correia. Beckman got the first batter he faced to ground to second, which allowed the runner from third to score. Another ground out ended the inning. Usually that would be the end of the outing for a minor leaguer who is filling in. But, Joe Beimel, who was scheduled to pitch after Correia, had some elbow soreness and did not pitch. So, Beckman kept going. He threw three more pitches, and retired three batters in the 3rd inning, with a line out and two ground outs. Brian Burres earned the win with 2 scoreless innings following Beckman. Joel Hanrahan, Jose Veras, and another minor leaguer, Tony Watson, each pitched one scoreless inning. Watson worked around a lead-off single in the 8th. Chris Leroux pitched the 9th, and gave up a solo homer and two singles, but ended the inning with a pop out and a double play.
LF John Bowker and RF Andrew Lambo also got into the game.